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Love+ review at Summerhall, Edinburgh – ‘funny and thoughtful’

Breffni Holahan in LOVE+. Photo: Carla Rogers Breffni Holahan in LOVE+. Photo: Carla Rogers

Irish company Malaprop Theatre is interested in all the ways technology is remaking our romantic lives.

While the company’s other show, BlackCatfishMusketeer, eloquently explores the ways in which digital devices have changed the way people meet and interact with one another, Love+ is more speculative in its approach. It envisions a future where artificial intelligence has evolved to the extent that robots exist who can anticipate our every whim and fulfil our every need, soothe us after a stressful day at work, compliment us, caress us and pleasure us in bed.

A young woman owns one of these bots. They watch movies together and make an attempt at a sexual relationship but as realistic as the robot looks, there’s a slight edge of the uncanny to their exchanges.

While it feels less structurally surefooted than BlackCatfishMusketeer, it’s similarly stuffed with ideas. Dylan Coburn Gray and Maeve O’Mahony’s devised play is as interested in the limits of love as it is with theories about AI, language, sex and the stuff that makes us human.

The interactions between Catherine Russell and Breffni Holahan are tender and intimate, with Holahan’s robot a warm and responsive presence despite that her every gesture and expression is a little stiff, a little off, human but not quite. The pair break off midway through to conduct a chat with an online sex-bot which sharpens the discussion further.

Love+ comes to feel a bit like a performative essay, a funny and thoughtful piece about language, love and loneliness.

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Verdict
Thought-provoking, idea-rich two-hander about artificial intelligence, language and love
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